The emotional and physical scars from the eight day bombardment this month will long linger on with the impoverished Gazan citizens with 104 civilians killed – a third were children. Another 970 civilians were maimed or wounded including around a third of them children.
It is hard to imagine the traumatisation for hundreds of families or for children who have been left orphaned by this bombardment. I have listened and worked with bereaved women of husbands, children and family members in Nablus on an annual visit, as well as a small number of Israelis whose loved ones have also died from acts of terror. There is much in common between state terror and organisational terror.
This long list of dead, wounded and maimed in Gaza leaves serious questions.
- Did the Israeli government have a policy of indiscriminate killing of Gazan citizen regardless of the claims of the IDF?
- Are “surgical” air strikes a complete fabrication of the military whenfamilies are wiped out as well as many more injured and blinded during these attacks?
- Are the claims of surgical air strikes a propaganda ploy to make the bombing of civilians more acceptable to the citizens of Israel?
- Did the bombardment of Gaza show yet again a staggering failure of intelligence reports when Israeli rockets killed so many completely innocent people, young and old?
- Did the bombardment of Gaza make a mockery of the policy of targeted killings of certain Hamas officials while not forgetting arrest and trial and conviction of war criminals upholds the principles of justice..
- Do we really believe that the IDF made every effort to avoid “collateral damage”
The Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv repeatedly stressed their attacks were surgical and they made every effort possible to avoid collateral damage – that is the death and suffering of citizens and the destruction of their homes and civic institutions. The evidence refutes the claims of the Israeli government.
Hamas has soul-searching to do as well. Israel military authorities claim that Hamas launched 2000 rockets this year into civilian areas of Israel and 12,000 rockets since 2005. If so, one has to assume a massive death toll in Israel. The murderous Hamas rocket attacks during the eight days killed six Israeli citizens and wounded as many as 100 civilians.
Gaza regarded worldwide as the world’s largest open prison lives under occupation. More and more of the 1.7 million people live their lives as refugees, some in conditions resembling sub-Sahara Africa. Refugees in the city of Gaza fled on bicycles, by donkey, on horse carts and by foot when the Israeli air force dropped warning leaflets of their impending attacks.
WHAT WILL BE NEEDED TO RESOLVE THIS MEDIAEVAL SIEGE OF GAZA?
The Israeli government will have to end its blockade. This means to:
- Allow the people of Gaza to import the food they need instead of the Israeli policy of tight rationing of food supplies?
- Allow the people of Gaza to have access to urgent supplies of medical equipment and medicine as well as the need for properly functioning hospitals and clinics, and fully trained personnel.
- Allow the people of Gazan access to the import of necessary materials to rebuild their homes, offices, factories, roads and engineering works.
- Allow full international funding to enable the rebuilding of government buildings, offices and institutions raised to the ground through the recent bombardment and in 2008.
- Allow full international funding to provide full education and employment opportunities for all. UN reports that unemployment rate in Gaza for people of working age is 45% – one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Unemployment breeds resentment and anger among the young that gets directed at Israel for the siege.
- Allow the rebuilding of safe water provisions, sewerage pipes, electricity and gas supplies.
- Allow Gazan farmers to reclaim their land near the border with Israel to help feed the people of Gaza? Gaza has lost an estimated 35% of farming land which the IDF use as a buffer zone. Israeli snipers appear to have a shoot to kill policy on farmers found on their own land near the border.
- Allow the fishermen of Gaza to go out to sea to fish for the people rather than work under the tight restrictions of the Israeli navy and the daily risk of the deliberate sinking of their boats.
- Allow the people of Gaza free access to their families, loved ones and friends on the West Bank and develop trust so that citizens of Gaza can visit loved ones in Israel where around 1.5 million Palestinians live.
It is not enough for most of the world to feel sympathy for the plight of the people of Gaza in their hellish prison. There is a need for vision and leadership within Gaza and elsewhere. There is also no sign of vision and leadership whatsoever from the White House, the EU or the UN nor any desire from the Israeli government to change its policy of slow strangulation of the Palestinians.
You do not have to be a prophet to know that the ceasefire is thus temporary….